Walking BookFairs, an independent bookshop in Bhubaneshwar, is starting a new venture later this year—a bookselling course. The shop first started in 2014 as a travelling library to reach people who don’t have access to libraries or bookstores.
Satabdi Mishra and Akshaya Bahibala, co-founders of Walking BookFairs, have almost a decade of experience in bookselling, having built their store from scratch. Over the years, they realised that while many people in India want to open a bookstore, they are no practical guides or resources to help them through the process. Thanks to films and some books, bookselling is often romanticised and people often dive into it with rose-tinted glasses but not much practical knowledge.
“This will be India’s first book-selling course. People have often reached out to us for advice about starting a bookstore, whom to approach, and how to go about acquiring the books," Mishra tells Lounge. "So, this has been on our minds for a long time. We hope to help more people start independent bookshops and engage people in valuable discussions about bookselling through the course.”
As exciting as bookselling is, it comes with many challenges that remain invisible until people dip their feet in it. “This is probably why not many people are opening independent bookstores today," Mishra says. "A course on it could spread more awareness about the profession and get more people into the field. It’s important to talk about the hard work and labour that goes into it.”
Currently, Mishra and Bahibala are planning a short course which will focus on hands-on experience, classes on how to start a bookstore, what goes into it, how to source the books, how to get funding, how to build a community offline and online, and the role of social media in bookselling. Mishra adds, “Generally, independent bookstores are known for their curation so that will be a key aspect. The more carefully books are curated, the more value is added.”
The pair also plan to invite authors, publishers, and distributors for talks to expand the discussions during the course. As Walking BookFairs is well known for the many interesting talks and events they hold in their bookstore, Mishra and Bahibala also hope to add that to the course to help aspiring booksellers reach more people.
More details about the course will be announced on Walking BookFairs’ Twitter page (@walkngbookfairs) in the coming months.